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Can the Amazon’s trees survive global warming?



January 30, 2013


Recently published research by Dick, Lewis, Maslin & Bermingham in Ecology and Evolution (Vol 3, Issue 1, Jan 2013) finds that very old tree species in the Amazon basin may be able to survive the predicted increased temperatures of 2100.

Dick et al proposed the hypothesis that tree species which date from before the Pleistocene period (8-10 Ma) are already adapted to higher temperatures, as the preceding Pliocene and late Miocene periods had temperatures similar to those predicted for 2100. Using comparative phylogeographic analyses, they show that 9 of 12 widespread Amazon tree species have Pliocene or earlier lineages, saying:

“The remarkably old age of these species suggest that Amazon forests passed through warmth similar to 2100 levels and that, in the absence of other major environmental changes, near-term high temperature-induced mass species extinction is unlikely” The researchers do add “However, we cannot discount the possibly that some higher temperature tolerance may have been lost over time. This hypothesis should be a priority future research focus.”

Warmth Tolerance of Amazon Species Dick et al in Ecology and Evolution Jan 2013

Warmth Tolerance of Amazon Species by Dick et al in ‘Ecology and Evolution’ Volume 3, Issue 1, pages 162–169, January 2013


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